Bullying over the internet through social media site like Facebook and twitter as well as text messaging and online gaming is becoming a larger and larger problem. Every year it gets easier to connect to others around the world and with that is an increase in harassment, threats and cyberstalking. Each state has their own laws to try and curb the problem, but Arizona is trying to pass laws making it a class 1 misdemeanor which includes fines and/or jail time.
About 5,000 teens commit suicide every year, for all sorts of reasons and a growing number of it is from online bullying from classmates, neighbors or people that they have never even met before. It is not limited to children or teens, adults are affected by bullying as well at work or on forums and journals and even by what their child is going through. According to the Cyberbullying Research Center “Approximately 20% of the students report experiencing cyberbullying in their lifetimes”, and “Adolescent girls are significantly more likely to have experienced cyberbullying in their lifetimes (25.8% vs. 16%)”. Also according to the web site Puresight.com “Middle-school victims of cyberbulllying are more apt to commit suicide. The AP-MTV survey found that 8% of cyberbulllying victims and 12% of sexting victims have considered ending their own life compared to 3% of people who have not been bullied and were not involved in sexting.”
Arizona is taking one of the biggest steps to try and prevent such bullying by passing a new bill outlawing it. “Right now the bill would result in a misdemeanor charge that carries a maximum $2,500 fine and six months in jail for anybody who uses a computer, smartphone or similar device to send a message to “terrify, intimidate, threaten, harass, annoy or offend.”(FoxNews) The bill is being met with criticism by opponents saying that it violates the 1st Amendment for Free speech and is worded in such a way that it leaves the bill open for interpretation and does not spell out what would be considered offensive.
The idea is there, and it is time that this type of bullying is taken more seriously. It is not kids being kids anymore or a rite of passage. Once these comments and photos reach the internet they are there to stay and have a more lasting affect than the “wait until next Monday and it will be forgotten” thought the parents grew up with.